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Deforestation Risk Overstated

Media Statement
Tuesday 20 May 2008
For Immediate Release

Deforestation Risk Overstated

Fears that a temporary delay in the passage of the Climate Change (Emissions Trading and Renewable Preference) Bill could lead to significant deforestation are unfounded, the Flexible Land Use Alliance said today.

Such fears have been expressed since Opposition Leader John Key proposed that the legislation be delayed until six tests were met.

Ross Green, spokesman for the Flexible Land Use Alliance, said almost all land that could be deforested early had been in 2007 as land-owners tried to avoid punitive measures proposed to be introduced from 1 January 2008.

"As we have told Forestry Minister Jim Anderton and the Finance & Expenditure Select Committee, our assessment, based on our knowledge of our own businesses, is that deforestation intentions, even were pre-1990 forests completely and permanently excluded from the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), are much lower than the Government has been advised," Mr Green said.

"What's more, until legislation is finalised either next month or in the near future, there will be no deforestation of any significance anywhere in New Zealand.

"So confident are we that deforestation intentions are much lower than the Government has been advised that we have offered to cap any Forestry Offset Scheme at just 4,000 hectares per annum, when the ETS is introduced.

"Talk that a delay in passing the Bill could lead to costs to the taxpayer from deforestation is therefore wrong."

The Flexible Land Use Alliance consists of Blakely Pacific Ltd, Carter Holt Harvey Ltd, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, Forest Enterprises Ltd, the New Zealand Forest Owners Association Inc., PF Olsen Ltd and Wairakei Pastoral Ltd. Landcorp Farming Ltd was previously a member and continues to support the principle of a Forestry Offset Scheme.

Under a Forestry Offset Scheme, forest owners harvesting their land would be able to meet their liabilities under the ETS either by replanting the exact same land or by planting an equivalent area of land elsewhere in New Zealand that is not currently in forestry. This would be part of a wider compensation package for land owners and would help mitigate the land-value losses associated with the introduction of the ETS, which are estimated to be in the vicinity of $4 billion, including $2 billion of Maori land-value losses.


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